A fascinating theory on why we love cooking (and watching people cooking).
Having done more research than me, he’s suggesting a fascinating answer.
Do we love cooking because our species been shaped by cooking?
An hypothesis is that this came from the consumption of proteins of meat.
While brain increased, other things got smaller: teeth, jaws and intestine.
According to the anthropologist Richard Wrangham this change can be better explained with the control of fire and discovery of cooking.
Dear crudist reader, please keep calm because I’m going to astonish you. According to this theory, evolution shaped us to eat cooked meat and vegetables.
It’s not we created the art of cooking food. It’s the cooked food that created humans.
Eating cooked food, our ancestors needed less energy to digest meat and vegetables. Cooking is like a pre-digestion: it denaturates proteins and disrupts fibers. There was more energy available to feed our high energy-demanding brain.
Before cooking our ancestors wandered in woods collecting roots, fruits and small animals and eating them lonely on their way. Like most mammals do. After cooking they had to stay together around a fireplace to enjoy food. Around fire they started to communicate and became families and communities.
Even if this hypothesis doesn’t convince you, it’s undeniable that humans wouldn’t been humans without cooking food. You can say human is nothing else than the cooking monkey.
So we love cooking and watching people cooking not only for the childhood memory of grandma in her kitchen. It’s really something in our genes. It’s probably something we deeply need. And while we eat restaurant, we microwave, we grab a sandwich at McDrive we miss something fundamental to us.
(Actually, don’t you have the feeling that human brain is getting smaller these times?)
Another interesting idea I read in Pollan’s book is that with industrial food we could live without cooking in a traditional way. With a microwave and a frozen pizza you have a more than satisfactory meal. Women are finally free from this duty.